October 23, 2014

Topanga Mountain School Celebrates with a Harvest Festival

 

PHOTOS BY ANNEMARIE DONKIN

Topanga Mountain School Celebrates with a Harvest Festival

India Schmitt climbs up the homemade fidget ladder made by Thad Wadleigh at the Topanga Mountain School Harvest Festival at the Trust Ranch in Topanga.

As the storm clouds parted on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, families, students and friends gathered at the Trust Ranch on Sunday, Nov. 18 for a fall Harvest Festival on behalf of the Topanga Mountain School.

Parents and local craftspeople set up booths to sell jewelry, pottery, hand woven woolen caps and food, including a bake sale.

Meanwhile, kids played inside bouncy houses, climbed on a rope ladder or participated in a ‘flash mob’ dance to the delight of the crowd.

Everyone feasted on tri-tip, hotdogs and many delicious vegetarian dishes.

The musical entertainment included original and traditional music by Maya Bon; Andrew Bush and Stacy James and Henry and Michelle; Alaska Reid and band featuring Elias and also Katarina Gleicher and band.

Martin and Sue Schmitt bought the 17-acre Trust Ranch five years ago, knowing they would inherit the school’s weekly learning activities and annual festival, now in its eighth year.

“This is a sweet little country festival to connect with the community,” Sue Schmitt said.

Their daughter, Jensen, attends the Mountain school and their daughter India will attend when she is in sixth grade.

Schmitt said the students visit the ranch to create metal work, Jiu Jitsu practice and aerial arts with FOCUSfish founder Kristy Beauvais; Paul Beauvais set up the Trust Ranch Arial Pavilion.

With only 40 students from 6th to 8th grade at its Woodland Hills campus, the ­­­Topanga Mountain School believes that a school is not only responsible for a child’s academic growth but is in a partnership with the child’s family in helping both spiritual and emotional development.

Topanga Mountain School Celebrates with a Harvest Festival

Topanga Mountain School students, from left, Nevin Bernet, Chloe Smull, Kayla Torrey, (back row) Bradley Roache and Allie Torrey at the Festival on Nov. 18.

“The kids spend every Wednesday here,” Sue Schmitt said. “When you buy the Trust Ranch, you inherit the school.”

Elisa Deitelbaum, whose daughter, Amanda attends the school, worked with kids to make homemade t-shirt scarves that they could decorate by themselves.

“It is pure passion,” Elisa said about her craft that she provided to the students. “I just love it.”

­­­At other booths, kids could also decorate picture frames, holiday ornaments or cupcakes. They could also get their faces painted or show off a spray-on tattoo.

“The have fun and freedom here in Topanga,” said Sarah Essex, whose 11-year-old daughter, Scarlett, attends the school. “They get real life experiences, all the children are so poised, they are not afraid of anyone and they develop a beautiful connection to the world.”

After delaying the festival for one day due to rain, Topanga Mountain School Director Joy Taylor was delighted with the turnout.

“We have a couple of hundred people here at the festival,” Taylor said. “We like to give back to the community.”